As we all know by now, cyber attacks affect all businesses. But they pose an even greater threat to start-ups and SMEs. Why? These smaller scale companies are more vulnerable because cyber criminals know they have their guard down, making small businesses easier to infiltrate than larger enterprises. Bad actors are attacking from all angles with ransomware, phishing, and malware – these cyber incidents increased by nearly 200% between 2021 and 2022!
The average cost of cyber attacks and their consequent data breaches are expected to reach $5 million this year. Not only are they wiping out small businesses, but they also tarnish the company’s reputation. Clearly cyber security isn’t something to put on the backburner. Cyber security can no longer be an area for businesses of any size to cut corners, it’s too risky. No matter your industry, cybersecurity should be a top priority for all businesses. Are your employees practicing good security hygiene?
We know it can seem overwhelming to figure out where to start when it comes to cybersecurity. Today’s ever-evolving threats make our digital landscape hard to keep up with, hackers are constantly thinking of new ways to trick us. But don’t worry, that’s what Computers Nationwide is here for! Knowing what your SMB is up against is the first and most important step towards taking action. We’re here to help guide your workplace towards a cyber secure New Year with this helpful checklist. Use it to create cybersecurity protocols and strategies to stay safe from attacks in 2023…
Common Cyber Threats SMBs are Facing in 2023
Most small businesses have a “wait and see” approach to cybersecurity – they stay on the sidelines until there’s an attack, then scramble to patch one or two vulnerabilities. This isn’t exactly the smartest strategy, as it leaves your company susceptible to a myriad of threats that could wreak havoc on your business. We always say, proactivity is the best approach! Don’t wait for something bad to happen…strengthen your defenses now! Click here to read our top cybersecurity predictions for 2023.
Some of the most common cybersecurity threats for small businesses in the U.S. include phishing scams, malware, data breaches, and ransomware. Here’s a brief overview:
- Unpatched systems – Patches are updates or changes offered by solutions providers that tackle specific security or technical issues. Since the patches are applied on known vulnerable systems, unpatched endpoints or systems are an easy target for hackers.
- Social engineering – An attack where people are manipulated to give up sensitive information – often carried out by rivals to target their competition.
- Ransomware and malware – Ransomware is when hackers take control of systems or data and demand ransom in exchange for release. Malware is a common attack when malicious software is used to carry out actions on your systems.
- Credential stuffing – in such attacks people use one set of credentials to access different and unrelated systems. The premise is that people often use similar passwords across systems and accounts and hence, hackers can access different systems by hacking just one.
- Data poisoning – AI implementation is increasing, leading to greater reliance on it. Injecting wrong data can poison the input for AI leading to skewed results and output for firms.
- Cloud Vulnerability – WFH, remote work, and geographic distances have led to the accelerated use of cloud solutions. Hacking the cloud can mean a massive data breach for the company and company protocols and processes can be at a great security risk.
The Ultimate Cybersecurity Checklist for 2023
Small businesses are increasingly victimized by cyber attacks. There’s too much at stake to ignore cyber security any longer. 60% of small businesses hit by cyber attacks go out of business within six months. Even if your company survives, the average cost of returning to business after one of these breaches now sits at almost $1 million. When was the last time you upgraded your cyber security measures? Is your workplace using the latest, innovative computer security tools? Are all employees following modern best practices protocols for cyber safety?
We recommend conducting a comprehensive audit of your cyber security posture every year to determine what your vulnerabilities are and figure out what needs to be updated. As technology and threats evolve, it’s vital to ensure your company’s security protocols are current to protect your data, your devices, and your bottom line. This will involve patching any gaps, adopting new technology, and converting to a zero-trust environment.
Fortunately, the cyber experts at CN are here to lead the way with the ultimate checklist to help you do just that!
Updating Your Systems
The first step to protecting your business is a deep and thorough understanding of your cyber security systems. What technology, software, and apps are you using? Are operating systems up to date? Knowing where your devices, data, and systems need upgrading is how you can protect them. 60% of breach victims said they were breached due to an unpatched known vulnerability where the patch was not applied. These softwares must constantly be updated to fight the most recent bugs. Teams must update their programs and devices constantly for ongoing protection.
Data Backup and Recovery Plan
Even with robust security measures, accidents and incidents can still happen. Especially due to human error. Make sure your team knows what to do in the event of a breach or other cybersecurity threat. Having a plan in place will help you act quickly and efficiently to mitigate damage to your business, customers, and reputation. The response time and speed you show can decrease the damage done during the attack. And let’s not forget about regularly backing up your data in a secure location in case it gets compromised!
Employees Cybersecurity Training
Employees are your first line of defense, but can also be your weakest link. The human element resulted in 82% of breaches in 2022. Cybersecurity protocols and practices aren’t just the IT department’s duty. Everyone has a role to play in the company’s cyber hygiene. All of your employees need to know the best practices for internet, email, links, downloading files, passwords, and so forth. They should be well-versed with the company’s security protocols and ensure that their devices are secured and password-protected at all times.
Rules for Hybrid Workers
The blend of remote workers and hybrid teams have increased opportunities, efficiency, and productivity. But it has also created room for gaps and attacks, leading to a stronger need for increased (and stricter) cybersecurity measures. All remote and on-site workers need to be trained and educated on security protocols – physical and digital. How they should connect to the network, what internet to use, how to access email, and share files should all be clear and protected. How can your people stay safe while using public Wi-Fi? One easy way is to use a virtual private network (VPN).
Focus on Cloud Security
When you have workers across multiple locations, your cloud solutions should be foolproof. Create and cascade a policy for all cloud usage, including passwords and regular monitoring of who has access and authorization. Also, you should enable VPN, anti-malicious and anti-virus software, and multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized people from gaining access to data and your cloud. In fact, 46% of SMBs (and growing) have adopted MFA.
Conduct Regular Audits
Even with the strongest cybersecurity strategy, you cannot become complacent. Conduct regular assessments to identify any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your systems and rectify them immediately using patch management processes. This requires an IT team to make a thorough assessment of the company’s IT security infrastructure from the inside out, evaluate current cyber security practices, find gaps, and create a comprehensive plan for improvement. This has proved challenging for many businesses to keep up with due to the ongoing IT and cyber skills shortage.
Just as we make personal goals for the new year, the same can be done for your business. But January’s almost over? So what! It’s never too early or too late to re-evaluate your cyber security systems and find ways to improve. Hackers are expecting organizations to give up on their security efforts after just a few weeks into the new year. Let’s prove them wrong! Now isn’t the time to slack off.
So what can my company do to improve our security posture in 2023? In short:
✔️ Assess your current cyber security measures and identify gaps.
✔️ Research emerging threats to be aware of.
✔️ Future-proof your technology and fix vulnerabilities.
✔️ Stay up to date on this year’s cyber predictions.
✔️ Lead security awareness training for your team!
According to the 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global security workforce gap increased by 26%. The days of relying on in-house IT teams are coming to an end with many companies lacking the talent they need to keep up with today’s cyber needs. Yet cybersecurity has become far too complex for most SMB’s to manage on their own.
So what can you business do to stay current with the latest threats, maintain strong IT protocols, and continuously update your cyber defenses? Let us help by doing what we do best! Partner with a trusted managed service provider like Computers Nationwide. We’re your one-stop-shop for all of your security technology needs. Our professional cyber security team can provide patch and asset management, security audits, task automation, premium remote control, 24/7 threat detection, around the clock defense, cutting-edge solutions, and so much more.
SMB’s of all industries and sizes are targeted for many reasons, but specifically because:
- They don’t think they will be attacked and aren’t prepared.
- They can be easier to infiltrate due to outdated systems or lack of security protocols and training.
- Cybercriminals are after personal data, which all organizations have.
If continuity is important to your business, then it’s vital to revamp your security strategy in 2023. You’re already busy running your business and don’t have time to add another task to your plate. That’s when it’s time to partner with us. The IT experts at Computers Nationwide are ready to remove this stress so you can focus on managing your workplace and growing your business with ease!
Ready to protect your business from cyber threats in 2023?
Choose Computers Nationwide as your Computer Security provider and leave the rest to us!
Find out how your company will benefit from Managed Cyber Security services in 2023: (847) 419-9900
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